Toronto Raptors Should Target Pau Gasol This Summer

Ryan McNeillContributor IIJune 8, 2014

Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol, right, of Spain, is defended by Los Angeles Clippers' DeAndre Jordan during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Thursday, March 6, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Fans of the Toronto Raptors were fired up last week when Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher suggested that the Toronto Raptors and Pau Gasol were a great fit this summer during free agency.

In fact, Bucher went so far as to claim that Gasol was the missing piece to make the Raptors a title contender.

Gasol is coming off a season where he averaged 17.4 points while shooting a modest 48 percent from the field. The Los Angeles Lakers had arguably their worst season during the Kobe Bryant era last season and failed to get bang for their buck from Gasol after they paid him $19.2 million.

So why would a 33-year-old Gasol who is starting his decline be a good fit for Toronto? Because he would instantly become a signficant scorer in the post for the franchise.

Gasol would be able to give Jonas Valanciunas a valuable mentor while giving the team a much-needed scorer in the post.

Or, in the case of Gasol, he could provide the team with a big man who can score from almost anywhere on the court.

Toronto is a franchise that has relied on one-on-one offense to score and when that has broken done the offense has become stagnant. Gasol would give the team an option to dump the ball down into and he could create easy buckets for himself or he could swing the ball back out to an open teammate for a good shot.

Gasol has long been one of the better passing big men in the NBA, as shown by the fact he has averaged 3.3 assists per game over his career.

This summer the Raptors are investing a lot of money for Valanciunas to spend time working out with Hakeem Olajuwon. Wouldn’t it make sense to have Valanciunas battle Gasol in practice and be able to pick his brain during team flights or while both players are on the bench together?

The only sticking point would be what kind of salary Gasol would command this summer and the length of his contract. It’s possible that Toronto could re-sign Kyle Lowry for around $10 million per season and still obtain Gasol if his price tag is around $10 million per season.

Toronto currently has $41 million guaranteed in salaries next season, per Hoops Hype, and that will drop even more if the team elects to pay John Salmons $1 million to become a free agent. Salmons is currently scheduled to earn $7 million so paying him $1 million to become a free agent would bump the team down to $35 million on guaranteed salaries.

The NBA's salary cap during the 2014-15 season is scheduled to be $63.2 million, per Marc Stein of, so Toronto has some wiggle room there.

There’s also the option of Toronto trying to engage the Los Angeles Lakers in a sign-and-trade of some sort to help Toronto clear up some cap room while giving the Lakers something of value back.

Regardless of what it will cost, trying to obtain Gasol this summer would be a wise move by the Raptors.